SMBO 2015 – 23

Hello Stalkers, welcome to the twenty-third edition of Stalking Mike Blair Outdoors. The official first day of summer is approaching on the 21st, but I know many of us are already enjoying the warmer weather and venturing outside. Have you seen anything interesting? Explored somewhere new? We want to know! Share your ‘late spring, pre-summer’ experiences with us. Leave in in a comment or post it to our page.

Prairie Robber Fly 2You may have seen these interesting insects flying about and wondered what they are. Larger than a fly but not quite right for a dragonfly. . .  These are actually recognized as a Robber Fly, from the Asilidae family and they are known for their large appetites and predatory behavior.

According to the Entomology Department at the University of Florida, there are 7,003 described species of Robber Flies worldwide. Of these there are 1,000 North American species. So, looks can vary from sleek to hairy. Size of these insects range, as well as color. However most species have the elongated body with a tapered abdomen. All have a characteristic divot on the top of their head, located betweRobber Fly 1en their prominent, compound eyes.

Robber Flies have a worldwide distribution, being found on most major continents and larger islands. However, some small islands, such as Hawaii, have not been exposed to these insects yet. Most species can be found in dry, sandy conditions. There are a few species that are found on edges of woodlands, near grasslands.

These predatory insects feed on other insects. Their diet will consist of prey that is available in their habitat. This list includes, wasps, bees, dragonflies, Prairie Robber Fly 3other flies and some spiders. Robber Flies are opportunistic predators. They establish a perching zone, which is usually in an open, sunny location. Once they spot their prey they approach and seize it in flight. After capture, the Robber Fly injects it’s prey with saliva that contains neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes. They then take their paralyzed prey back to their perching zone for dinner.

Most species of Robber Flies have whitish colored eggs. They deposit these eggs on plants or grass, sometimes in crevices in soils, bark or wood. Most often, they lay their eggs in masses, covered in a chalky protective coating. Robber Fly larvae live in the decaying organic material in their habitat, usually in the soil. Larvae are just as predatory as the adults. They feed on eggs, larvae and other soft-bodied insects. These larvae will then pupate in the soil overwinter. TheRobber Fly 4 pupae will migrate towards the top of the soil and then emerge as an adult. Complete development ranges from two to three years.

So now, when you see these curious insects you will have a better idea of what they are and what they do. Don’t be surprised if you catch them munching down on a fly or bee. Learn more about the Robber Fly from Mike Blair himself in his video Robber Flies.

We’d like to take a moment to thank you all for your participation. In getting this newsletter you have helped Blair continue his work and enable him to bring us these amazing images, beautiful videos and priceless books. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into it all. Encourage your friends to sign up for our newsletter as well, to further support Blair and his work. We would also like to thank you all for your engagement on our Facebook page. Your likes and shares help Blair get his work in front of more eyes and share the wonderful outdoors with even more people. Thank you.

Be sure to check out the Robber Fly Gallery!